A Song For Europe (BBC1, 1988)
As we all recover from the excitement that was the latest Eurovision Song Contest (well probably), I thought that I would take a look at something related. Instead of looking back at the history of the contest itself, I’ll review another of the selection shows. A while back I reviewed the show that selected Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 1985, so I thought I would take a look at the British equivalent.
The way that the UK song has been selected has varied so much over the years, so I thought I would concentrate on just one edition from the 80s. There are plenty on YouTube, and I have decided to review the A Song For Europe competition shown on 25 March 1988. This was back when the UK had a chance of winning, there really was such a time. The show was hosted by Terry Wogan, whose involvement in these shows ranged from as early as 1977 to as late as 2008, along with providing commentary on the main contest of course.
A Song For Europe was live on BBC1 and Radio 2 (I feel that Eurovision has always come across as more of a “Radio 2” event than a “Radio 1” one if you get what I mean), coming from Television Centre. Eight songs took part, but only one could triumph and go off to Dublin in April. The viewers at home were the ones who would determine the winner, with a phone-vote in the similar style to the one on Bob Says Opportunity Knocks. Don’t forget, the phone numbers are on page 65 of Radio Times and page 147 of Ceefax.
Also in attendance are a distinguished panel, not judges as such, but some music industry experts including George Martin and Mike Batt who would give their thoughts on the songs. Unlike the Irish show that I reviewed, there were no biographies of the songwriters or singers before every performance, we simply got all eight songs, performed live in the studio.
First is Catwalk, a group making their first TV appearance with “Till The Night”. Second is “High Windows” by Camino, featuring an angry-looking man with a hat. We’ve had to wait until the third song for a ballad sung by a big-haired woman, and it’s Zoe Nicholas with “Just A Memory”. Fourth is “Make Your Dreams Come True” by FNAC. They’ve come all the way from Godalming for this, and they also have two trumpeters.
Fifth is another ballad, “One More Chance” by male/female duo Klass. Sixth is “Heart To Heart” by Clinging To The Wreckage, who seem to be fronted by the woman from T’Pau. Seventh is another male/female duo, “This Is The Kiss” by Two-Che. This one would be my pick of the lot. And finally, there is Scott Fitzgerald with “Go”. The phonelines are then opened, make sure you get dialling.
Then it’s time to announce the winner. Someone’s dreams are about to come true, while some are about to be crushed, the business can be so cruel. The excitement is now bubbling, and Terry announces that 120,000,000 calls have been taken, justifying the decision to put the choice to the public. That’s not to be sniffed at. The Director-General of the BBC Michael Checkland will be very proud of their achievements, I’m sure.
The votes are then announced. And… with an unassailable score of 93,271 votes, Scott Fitzgerald is the winner, and he will “Go” to Ireland in April (ha-ha). He then accepts his winner’s medal from Terry, as does the writer of the song who is Bruce Forsyth’s daughter (yes, really). So, how did he do? “Go” peaked at a rather low No. 52 on the chart, and he came second, in one of the closest-ever finishes, missing out to Switzerland by just one point, and the fifth UK triumph was still nine years away. Hard luck, Scott!